MELBOURNE, Australia – South Korea has chosen the Bell 505 for its next military training helicopter, according to manufacturer Bell Textron.
The company announced that the US ally will acquire 40 of the helicopters to train its helicopter pilots, replacing the aging current fleets of the Army of the Republic of Korea (ROKA) and the Navy of the Republic of Korea (ROKN).
Helicopter deliveries, also known as Jet Ranger X, will be completed by 2025.
Bell Textron did not disclose the value of the contract, although the South Korean news agency Yonhap, citing the Administration of South Korea’s Defense Acquisition Program, or DAPA, said it was worth $ 133 million.
DAPA added that the contract will include eight simulators in addition to helicopters, with deliveries of the latter starting next year. The simulators will be manufactured in South Korea.
“The selection of the Bell 505 from the Republic of Korea, following a rigorous review process, confirms that it is the world’s preferred next-generation military training helicopter for pilot training,” said Patrick Moulay, Bell’s senior vice president of international sales. “With the ever-increasing operational needs and challenges facing the Republic of Korea’s armed forces, Bell has the privilege of playing a role in training future ROKA and ROKN pilots.
The Bell 505 is powered by a single engine that is equipped with dual-channel, authorized digital engine controls.
The fuselage weighs 2,180 pounds empty or 4,475 pounds fully loaded and can carry one pilot and up to four passengers. They made their first flight in 2014, and Bell delivered the first helicopter three years later.
Jet Ranger X is also operated by the Jamaican military, the Montenegrin Air Force, the Indonesian Navy and the Japanese Coast Guard. It is also run by several police departments in the United States.
The South Korean military is currently using a combination of Bell UH-1 and MD-500 helicopters in a training role.
Mike Yeo is the Asian correspondent for Defense News. He wrote his first article in a defense-related journal in 1998 before earning a degree in aerospace engineering from the Royal Institute of Technology in Melbourne, Australia. After working in engineering, he became a freelance reporter in the field of defense in 2013 and has written for several media outlets.